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J. Joksimović: The rule of law at the heart of the accession process and reforms

12. June 2018. | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: The rule of law at the heart of the accession process and reforms

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has said, at a conference where the results achieved over the past two years within the Horizontal Facility Programme for the Western Balkans and Turkey were analysed, that the reforms in the field of the rule of law will not cease even after chapters 23 and 24 are closed at the end of the European integration process.

"This is what we have promised to the citizens - that justice will be more accessible, that the state will be more just, that money from the budget will be used more transparently, that we will fight corruption and organized crime, and that we will be a state that guarantees all rights and whose best promoter is the Council of Europe as one of the oldest and most important European organizations," Joksimović has said.

She has pointed out that Serbia, as a candidate for EU membership, is quite interested in following what is happening within the EU itself and how the EU defends the rule of law, because the essence of the rule of law are the same standards and equal criteria. 

She has stated that this conference is an important event that marks the joint cooperation between the Delegation of the European Commission, the Council of Europe in Belgrade and the Government of Serbia, and that this programme implies support for reforms in the area of the rule of law, as well as what is the essence of the reform process and what is at the heart of European integration.

"It implies progress in the area of the rule of law, which means fighting corruption and fighting organized crime and economic crime, protecting human and minority rights, reforms of the judiciary as an important prerequisite for a more fair and just society. As a candidate country in the EU accession process, we were the first country to which a new model of negotiation was applied, i.e. to first open chapters 23 and 24, which define reforms precisely in the areas I have indicated, and to close these chapters last," she has said.

Joksimović has recalled that Serbia opened these two chapters back in July 2015, and has stated that, through Action Plans, it now monitors which of the steps foreseen have been undertaken in these areas.

According to her, the Member States assessed that there had been enough progress compared to the previous Progress Report on Serbia, and that it was possible to open new negotiation chapters for which Serbia is prepared.

She has expressed her expectation that Serbia will open two more chapters at the Intergovernmental Conference to be held on 25 June in Luxembourg: Chapter 33 - Financial and budgetary provisions, and Chapter 13 - Fisheries.

According to her, with regard to the progress achieved, the only remark Serbia has relates to the fact that progress in media freedom is expected.

"I think it is important that we have launched, on the initiative of President Aleksandar Vučić, the process of preparing the Draft Media Strategy, since some of the associations were not completely satisfied. Political will exists, different interests are confronted, which is legitimate, but inclusive approach and participation of all will, in the end, bring a good result in this area," Joksimović has said.

She has stressed that it is very important that Serbia has prepared, in an inclusive manner, a set of constitutional amendments to change the manner of election of the holders of judicial functions, which it submitted to the Venice Commission. 

"We should get an answer around 20 June on whether these amendments are in line with best practices and standards, both in the EU and beyond, after which we will be holding further public consultations, and I believe that this time we will implement the judicial reforms that will be sustainable as opposed to the past attempts," Joksimović has said.

Head of EU Delegation Sem Fabrizi has said that, in the process of EU accession, the field of the rule of law is very important for Serbia, and that the EU supports Serbia in the implementation of the reforms in this important field.

He has said that today’s conference included discussions about a programme financed by the EU in the amount of EUR 20 million, which deals with specifics in the field of the rule of law, such as fair trials, promotion and protection of human rights, and the fight against corruption and discrimination.

"We believe that the rule of law is something that is important for the process of European integration of Serbia, but that the benefits will also be enjoyed by the citizens of Serbia, because they will have better protection, better access to justice, less discrimination and more fight against corruption," Fabrizi has said.

The Horizontal Facility Programme lasts for three years, from 2016 to 2019, and the project focuses on the administration of justice, combating corruption, economic and organized crime, the prevention of discrimination and the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups.

Through this programme, the EU and the Council of Europe help the beneficiaries in South-East Europe and Turkey in their alignment with the Council of Europe's standards and the acquis communautaire within the enlargement process.

(Source: Tanjug)

 

 

 

Конференција Horizontal facility  Конференција Horizontal facility

 

Конференција Horizontal facility  Конференција Horizontal facility